Now “Venom” has the top October opening ever at $80 million. (Prior record holder was “Scary Movie 3” in 2003 at $73 million adjusted.) That means February, April, and October 2018 each set new records with Marvel movies. The total weekend gross will come in a little under $175 million, the strongest in at least a decade.
Sony has been the home of “Spider-Man” among Marvel releases, along with “Ghost Rider.” A reasonable comparison is Disney’s “Doctor Strange” in early November 2016 (a normally better date), which opened around $90 million. Of course, $80 million is great any time, particularly outside of summer.
What makes “Venom” more impressive is, unlike many Marvel films, it was poorly reviewed with a truly bad Metacritic score of 35. That’s lower than “Night School,” “The Predator,” or “The Spy Who Dumped” me to cite other recent unimpressive releases. The result — combined with the presence of Tom Hardy, who seems to have added appeal and legitimacy — shows once again why Marvel rules.
Males made up about two thirds of its audience, with an age split was above and under 25. This is the rare film that brought in a younger male audience in large numbers, with a tougher and more villain-oriented (if still PG-13) feel than many Marvel films.
Going back to the “Doctor Strange” comparison, Saturday was down 19 percent from the first results, while the earlier film fell three percent. Does this portend for word of mouth? Too early to tell. In the meantime, this looks like an easy $200 million domestic result, with an added $115 million international with three key territories yet to open suggesting a $400 million-500 million total. That’s strong for this somewhat over $100 million budget title, lower end for Marvel.
So much media attention went to “A Star Is Born” that many people might be surprised that it only did a little over half as much. This is a case where the better judgment of its results comes from not another film the same weekend, but similar films appealing to the same older, more female audience.
October releases with female-centered stories aren’t rare; recent years have seen “Gravity” and “Gone Girl” open at or above this level. But those both were not overwhelmingly aimed at women or older audiences as “Star.” Its audience is more likely to be slow developing, and possibly also aided by repeat viewers.
In any event, it is a triumph for director and co-star Bradley Cooper, who has not really been in a breakout film since “American Sniper.” But of course, Lady Gaga’s lead debut is the biggest story. She likely drove the interest for what otherwise might have been seen as more of a tired retread.
It also marks the start of a high-end group of studio awards contenders, with “The First Man” on its heels next weekend. Going early might be risky with so many other films vying for attention still to come. But this allows “Star” to have several weeks to be front and center and get to as much as a five-times multiple (which would get it to $200 million). Next weekend will give more evidence on its future. But its opening is all that Warners could have reasonably hoped for.
The arrival of two juggernauts had the normal effect of crowding out most holdovers. Overcoming that was the second weekend for Warners’ animated “Smallfoot,” which dropped 35 percent. It will be boosted by Monday’s school holiday and the absence of much else for ththe family audience.
Last weekend’s #1 “Night School” fared less well, down 55 percent. “Hellfest” (Lionsgate), which had a minor opening, fell more, around 60 percent. “Crazy Rich Asians” showed signs of wrapping up its run, falling 50 percent.
The Top Ten
1. Venom (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 35; Est. budget: $115 million
$80,030,000 in 4,250 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $18,831; Cumulative: $80,030,000
2. A Star Is Born (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 88; Est. budget: $36 million
$41,250,000 in 3,686 theaters; PTA: $11,191; Cumulative: $42,600,000
3. Smallfoot (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #2
$14,900,000 (-35%) in 3,592 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,607; Cumulative: $42,761,000
4. Night School (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$12,275,000 (-55%) in 3,019 theaters (+9); PTA: $4,066; Cumulative: $46,750,000
5. The House With a Clock in Its Walls (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #3
$7,295,000 (-42%) in 3,463 theaters (-129); PTA: $2,107; Cumulative: $55,051,000
6. A Simple Favor (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #4
$3,435,000 (-47%) in 2,408 theaters (-665); PTA: $1,426; Cumulative: $49,014,000
7. The Nun (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #5
$2,610,000 (-52%) in 2,264 theaters (-1,067); PTA: $1,153; Cumulative: $113,367,000
8. Hell Fest (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #6
$2,075,000 (-60%) in 2,297 theaters (no change); PTA: $903; Cumulative: $8.864,000
9. Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.) Week 8; Last weekend #7
$2,060,000 (-50%) in 1,466 theaters (-881); PTA: $1,405; Cumulative: $169,135,000
10. The Predator (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #8
$900,000 (-70%) in 1,643 theaters (-1,283); PTA: $548; Cumulative: $49,986,000